Apero – 16th December 2016

The afternoon was hosted by Janet and John at their home in Périers
we were welcomed with a glass of mulled wine
it was so nice to see so many new faces as we are new to the group our selves [6 months ]
Janet and john put on a lovely spread of food .

A lovely afternoon was had by all, we would like to thank the committee for a lovely time and wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2017

Christmas Meal – 9th December 2016

On Friday 9th December 40 friends and members of the Anglophone Association Coutance met at Hotel Cositel Coutance for the annual Christmas lunch.


It was lovely to see a few new members at this annual social gathering and we hope to see them again at future events.


The delicious Christmas food that the group sampled included; camembert and margret of duck pastry parcel, haddock in a lemon sauce and warm chocolate sponge.

The committee did a wonderful job organising the lunch and providing a splendid array of raffle prizes which included some homemade gifts and festive food and wine.

Annette made some beautiful Christmas table decorations which the group enjoyed before they were auctioned off for people to have at home. The proceeds of the auction will be sent to this year’s cancer charity Le centre Francoise Baclesse in Caen


A great time was had by all and we look forward to future events in 2017.

Visit to Lessay on Friday 18 November 2016

This was a most enjoyable three part visit. We began at the Réo fromagerie in the morning where we were shown a short explanatory film on the making of their Camembert followed by a tour of the factory where we could observe the process. The cheese is made from raw milk from 60 local farms and it takes 2 litres of milk to produce a single round Camembert. After the rennet has been added to the raw milk and the mixture has set and it has been cut into sections, each cheese maker pours a ladle of the curdled milk into a cylindrical cheese mould on a bench. The bench holds sufficient moulds for it to take the operative 45 minutes to complete the bench full of moulds. The process is then repeated 4 more times by which time the mould is full. This eventually becomes the 250 gram Camembert. Having observed the rest of the process we were able to taste the premium, additionally aged cheese and to buy dairy products from the shop




A decent lunch was taken at the Hotel Normandy in town in a relaxed atmosphere and with time to chat amongst ourselves. From the Hotel it was a short walk to Lessay Abbey for the afternoon visit.


Unfortunately our guide wasn’t there to meet us although she did arrive later making profuse apologies and explaining that she had put the entry in her diary on the wrong day. Whilst waiting we were able to explore the inside of the Abbey.


The original Abbey was built in the Romanesque or Norman style in 1056 to a simple design. It was subsequently destroyed twice, once during the religious wars in the Middle Ages and then again by the Germans after the D-Day invasion. The Abbey held such an important place in the hearts of the local people that they were determined to rebuild it after the war. This was completed in 1958 in the original architectural style. The destruction of the building by the Germans had exposed the original ribbed vaulted roof structure which had been built over and hidden. This was successfully reconstituted and it looks magnificent within the building. One of the few examples remaining in Europe of this style of roof architecture is in Durham Cathedral in the UK which was built by the Normans in around 1100.

The guide was able to get access to the original cloisters of the Abbey from which we could see some of the original outside walls of the Abbey which had been built in the herringbone style for strength. We could also see some of the grotesques which had been carved in stone and fixed to the ends of the rafters at the top of the walls just beneath the roof-line.



There was still time for a wander through the gardens and for some to return to the Hotel Normandy for a drink and to get warmed up.

We spent a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Bonfire night – 5th November 2016

The Anglophone Fireworks Night was superbly hosted by Stevie and Kerry Miller. Guests were welcomed with a hot cider punch – ideal on a chilly November evening! as indeed were the hot sausage baguettes that followed (and especially the plentiful supply of cakes).





The quiz was Guy Fawkes inspired, which obviously gave an advantage to the mainly English ex-pats but I heard no complaints from the French locals.

When everyone went into the garden for the display, the sky had cleared a bit and a few stars along with a beautiful crescent moon appeared amongst the clouds.
The display itself was both loud and colourful with each of the main individual fireworks politely applauded but as Kerry set off some of the other fireworks it began to rain so everyone returned to the house. When people’s spectacles immediately steamed up we realised just how warm and welcoming the house was.
All in all, a good time was had by all and, I’m sure, everyone’s’ thanks go to Stevie, Kerry and the committee for a superb evening.




Oyster farm visit – 13th October 2016

October 13 was a lovely sunny day as 19 of us gathered at the marine supplies shop in Blainville-sur-Mer to spend a morning learning about the production of oysters.


Our guide was Claude, who was a mine of knowledge, not just on what happens to today, but also on the history.img_3789

He explained how oysters were first transported from Normandy to Rome, with an ingenious network of staging points where the oysters could be kept alive in pools. He brought us up to date, via the Greeks and Louis XV, to the present day and the intensive and innovative production methods. By this time the sunny day had become accompanied by a keen breeze, and we were all a little relieved to hear that we were going indoors.



We headed into the workshops, where we saw how the oysters are stored, cleaned and sorted. This was followed by perhaps the highlight of the visit – a chance for a dégustation! The oysters just kept on coming – and as they were absolutely fresh they were also absolutely delicious – and the accompanying Muscadet made things just perfect. A lovely visit – many thanks to Chris for the organisation and to her and Caroline for the excellent job they did of interpreting Claude’s presentation.

img_3800Write up and photos courtesy of members.

The visit to the lighthouse at Gatteville and the island of Tatihou – 9th September 2016


Friday 9th September dawned cloudy and breezy with a threat of isolated showers. We had a long drive ahead of us to get to the top right hand corner of the Cotentin peninsular by 10.45, to visit the lighthouse at Gatteville. There seven of us set off up the 365 steps to get to the top; at 75m it is the second highest phare in the whole of France.


The vertical challenge was met, with a few stops on the way up, and the views in the now sunny, but still breezy, weather were amazing. Thankfully none of us needed the defibrillator that was prominently displayed on the top floor!



After the long descent, which all agreed was less strenuous but more uncomfortable, we set off in convoy along the delightful coastal road to find St Vaast-le-Hogue and the Le Débarcadére restaurant for lunch. There we were joined by those who had declined the vertiginous lighthouse option. The repast was first class with sixteen of us sharing a convivial couple of hours.

After lunch Kenza got into commanding mode and we set off to get our tickets for the crossing to the Isle of Tatihou, barely a kilometre offshore. The embarkment point was a good ten minutes walk away on the far side of the harbour and some wise souls (or should that be soles?) drove around to save their legs and feet for the perambulations once ashore. The little blue vessel that takes folk back and forth had the look of a large version of a toy boat; more so in that it had wheels! When it arrived to collect the fourteen of us it ‘drove’ up a slope out of the water so that we could step aboard; the same procedure applied at the other end. We visited during high tide, but at low tides it ‘drives’ the whole way!


The island of Tatihou has fascinating history – very well explained and illustrated in the museum. But that’s not all there is – there are a variety of gardens, various old stone houses and military barracks as well as the prominent and famous Vaubon Tower, erected as part of the defences put on Tatihou at the beginning of the Thirty Years War.


The weather stayed magnificent all day, even getting hot. By the time we all re-boarded the little blue boat, we knew we had walked a lot. And we all agreed that we had had a really lovely day out. 

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Afternoon tea – 16th August 2016

Hello to everyone, I am writing to tell you all about our afternoon tea yesterday spent in the beautiful home and garden of Mike and Linda, not forgetting sweet little Genevieve
their King Charles Spaniel.

It was a glorious day, the garden offered plenty of shady spots and a very clean and inviting Swimming Pool, a few of our Members cooled off in it, and looked very happy!

IMG_3417 Linda, our hostess, must have spent hours planning what exciting and very naughty but delicious cakes to bake. It was a resplendently laden table.IMG_3412

For those of you who were unable to attend, you missed a TREAT!!! Tea and coffee in abundance and many to sit and talk to.

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The Brexit was high on the list of conversations, and for us living here we await to see what really happens. A big thank you to Mike and Linda for their warm welcome and hard work in making the afternoon a really enjoyable and friendly occasion.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Beach Picnic -11th August 2016

A picnic, a swim in the sea and a game of bat and ball – some of the simple pleasures of the annual beach picnic, one of my favourite Anglophone events, held this year on 11th August.  It was a cool blustery day, but at least the sun was shining.  

We gathered on the beach at Gouville at midday, 14 adults and 3 children, to enjoy our picnics, sharing around some of our goodies








Next, a swim and games. With a brisk wind, the sea was very rough, an orange flag was flying, and we had already watched anxiously as some fishermen struggled to bring their boat ashore in the big waves.


 Nevertheless, three brave souls ventured in for a paddle and a bracing swim. 






Some of us played bat and ball, both singles and doubles, others played beach darts, the children larked around in the sand, and the rest sunbathed, chatted and relaxed, all happy to spend some time together at the seaside.







It was a very enjoyable afternoon  and reminded us how lucky we are to live near these fabulous Normandy beaches.

Write up and photos courtesy of members

Fête Nationale – 14th July 2016

We were very lucky with the weather for our celebration of the Fête Nationale on 14 July, over 30 people came and enjoyed a relaxing and at times competitive afternoon.

A delightful buffet lunch was consumed by members and their guests.

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After lunch to allow time for the food and drink to digest, the raffle was drawn the prizes which were kindly donated by members, raised funds for this years nominated charity.

Tombola prizes

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33- raffle winners

The lucky raffle winners

The popular boules tournament ended the afternoon’s festivities, and the champions were awarded with a well earned trophy.

42 - playing Boules

everyone plus winners

The visit to La Ferme de l’Hermitière – 27th May 2016

On a warm but cloudy Friday nine members made their way (despite the petrol crisis)
to Granville and the harbour and we enjoyed a varied and leisurely lunch at Le Borsalino, where the conversation flowed
around a variety of subjects.
We then headed for La Ferme de l’Hermitière, just outside Granville at Saint-Jean-des-
Champs. Four more members and guests joined us and, as we waited in the by now
lovely, warm sunshine for the tour to begin, we admired the lovely setting of the
farmhouse and gardens.
The tour began with a video (in English!) explaining all about the process of cider-
making, from the care of the apple trees to ensure the best possible crop through to
collecting the fruit, pressing it, and the processes and timescales to make apple
juice, sweet cider, medium and dry cider, pommeau, calvados, and confit de cidre.
One of the ways they ensure as many blossoms on the apple trees are fertilized as
possible is by keeping beehives in the apple orchards.
After the video, our guide (M Coulombier) took us around the site where we saw the
mixture of both traditional and modern machinery and methods which have been
combined together to produce the best quality apple drinks.
20160527_160157We saw the casks (some of which are more than 100 years old) which store the calvados as it matures
and we learnt that, every so often they stop using a cask for Calvados and store
cider in there so that the tannin, which is essential for the Calvados, can be replaced
in the fabric of the barrel.
The old distilling machine is still used today but has been adapted with a little bit of modern technology to produce the heat to make it cleaner
and more efficient.
They bottle and label the drinks on the premises using as many recycled (returned) bottles as possible.
We also learnt that it was the Spanish who first produced cider and it wasn’t until the 15th century that the French, who enjoyed the Spanish cider very much, imported the cider apple trees from Spain to Normandie and set up their own production.
M. Coulombier and his family have run the farm for six generations and just 4 people work on the farm and bottle thousands of litres of cider, calvados, pommeau and apple juice every year.
There is a museum on site as well showing some of the implements and tools used on the farm (dairy and cider farming) over the years.
The tour finished in the shop where you can sample any of the drinks and purchase your favourites – along with honey produced from the beehives kept in the apple orchards, and a few other locally produced edibles – to take home with you.
Write up and pictures provided by members of the Anglophone Association.